I created this blog on day 20 of no alcohol and now it’s 25. I’ve been reading blogs about people’s sobriety journeys for several months now, and it’s been clarifying some things for me, helping to put me in a quitting frame of mind.
Four days ago I found myself thinking about relapse, as a concept, and wondering where to put that concern. I’m well aware that this addict/impulse isn’t going to go away soon, if ever. It’s cold, taller than wide, and hard; and burning at the same time. It’s been muted for three weeks, but I’m under no illusions that it’s gone. I don’t want to let my guard too down, and at the same time I don’t want to preoccupy myself excessively or let this become the center of my attention.
In the middle of that conversation with myself, I was seized with the idea of writing my story in the cybersphere. I drank alone and I’m quitting alone, and suddenly the idea of speaking all these words was so appealing – freeing. And as the days and weeks roll by, I suspect that having this attachment will be very useful, as the addict’s lies continue popping up and getting more creative and desperate. So, hello!
A brief history of how I got here. I’m a woman and in my forties. For about the last nine years I’ve been leaning on alcohol – for I’m not exactly sure what. I’m single and am childless by design. In those nine years I had one two-years-or-so relationship and for the past five have been with someone for what looks for all the world like long term. This is relevant to the “drink alone” part of the story. Sometimes I’ve needed to hide my drinking and sometimes I haven’t.
I started using alcohol to escape basically as soon as I could afford to. Prior to nine years ago, I was in graduate school for seven, traveled and did volunteer work etc. for six, and was in college before that. For a long time I had money for groceries, shelter, woodworking tools, and camping gear, and that was about it. It didn’t occur to me to buy alcohol. In those years, the thread of distraction or denial of self or abusing of self that eventually led to where I am now included things I could more easily pay for: a binge eating disorder in college and after, and the unbroken stress of grad school.
It’s been hard to quit because no one is pushing me to, or even suggesting it, because they don’t know how much I drink. (My secret food binging in my 20s was good training for hiding my actions now.) Part of what has helped me so much about some of the blogs out there is seeing what “high functioning” looks like for other people and hearing others who don’t have many or most of the danger signs listed in “do I have a drinking problem” quizzes calling time on their drinking. More on those quizzes later.
My drinking peaked a few years ago, in terms of quantity. It’s not like I was even barreling toward rock bottom. But I desperately wanted to find relief in beer and wine, and I was going to keep on trying, banging my head against the wall again, again, and again. Fortunately, my body started to rebel; I started feeling worse and worse the day after, including after drinking less and less. Lately, I’ve been feeling like crap after just a couple of beers.
But while I’m grateful for that, it’s not been enough to kick me off the stuff. I continue to crave an extended, euphoric oblivion – gotta be there somewhere. Next time I’ll get it. This time the buzz will take me somewhere wonderful, where I can stay for a very long time. I started to see my choice as to quit drinking (or to moderate, but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work) or to go whole hog and just devote myself to getting smashed nightly. I would end my relationship with my best friend, get another cat, and just do it. I know I could pull it off and look like a reasonably successful person.
But what a waste of a life.
Instead I am here, putting in place some warm friendly conditions in my day-to-day life in the hope that they will keep me calm enough for long enough for me to figure out what this new way of living looks like. So far, so good.